According to statistics from IFR industrial robot sales in 2011 increaded 18% to about 140,000 units. In the period between 2012 and 2014 sales will increase about 6% per year on average attaining a level of about 167,000 units in 2014.
The stock of robots operating in the factories world-wide will increase to about 1.3 million units at the end of 2014.
But there are risks that the optimistic forecast might be revised i.e. by weakening growth of the world economy or even a new recession caused by financial problems of major markets.
Automotive industry and electronics industry continue to be the main drivers.
There is an increasing tendency toward using LCD-television including LED lighting, as well as touch screens, OLED technologies and 3-D-displays e.g. for Smart Phones. Demand for solar cells will also continue to substantially increase. The nuclear disaster in Fukushima is intensifying the worldwide demand for alternative energy.
Investments of all other industries are gaining momentum.
At the end of 2010, only about 50 robots are installed per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry in the world. Japan, the Republic of Korea and Germany are the most automated countries in the world with robot densities between 250 and 300. In contrast, less than 20 robots are in operation in the big emerging markets: China, India, Russia and Brazil.
Japan, has by far the highest robot density in the automotive industry, more than 1,400 industrial robots are installed per 10,000 persons employed. It is followed by Italy, Germany and the United States with a robot density between 1,100 and 1,200.
Robots in China
In China, the huge robot investments in the recent years have resulted in a substantial increase in the robot density of the automotive industry. Between 2006 and 2010, it was up from 37 to 105 robots per 10,000 employees. Also, all other sectors have increased their robot installations considerably, but the robot density is still below 10. The potential for new installations in this market is still tremendous.
At least by 2014, China will surpass other countries to top the robot market worldwide regarding the annual supply.